DA’s Tokkie Swanepoel elected as the Mayor of the Thabazimbi Municipality

The Democratic Alliance in Limpopo is pleased to announce that Councillor Tokkie Swanepoel has been elected as Mayor of Thabazimbi Local Municipality during the inaugural council sitting today. (See photo here.)

Councillor Butana Tlhlabadira of the TFSD has been elected as Speaker and Councillor Catherine Sikwane of the TRA has been elected as Chief Whip.

The DA has 5 key priorities:

  • Building safer communities
  • Better waste management and protecting the environment
  • Creating a transparent and responsive government
  • Creating jobs and growing the economy
  • Infrastructure maintenance and investment

The DA together with the FF+, the EFF, the TRA and the TFSD is committed to put the residents of Thabazimbi first.

All matters before council will be dealt with item by item to ensure the best outcome for service delivery.

George Municipal Council elects DA Mayor, Deputy Mayor and Speaker

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in George wishes to congratulate Cllr Leon Van Wyk for being re-elected as the Mayor of George; Cllr Raybin Figland for being elected as the Deputy Mayor of George; and Cllr Sean Snyman for being elected as the Speaker of the George Municipal Council (Council).

Their election into Council signifies that the DA will, again, be in a position to serve and lead the people of George.

Our focus for the next 5 years includes, amongst other things, bettering the basics in terms of the provision of quality services, securing jobs and investment for the local economy as well as governing in the interests of all the people of George.

In September this year, the principles of good governance and sound financial management resulted in George being awarded infrastructure grant funding in the amount of R1,1 billion, spread over a period of 5 years.

As such, our election into Council will also ensure that this groundbreaking funding is used to not only restructure our capital expenditure budgets but to also attract economic development and investment.

The DA in George appreciates the privilege and opportunity that it has been afforded – to, once again, serve and lead the people of George. We unequivocally commit ourselves to serving all the people of George with the utmost distinction, integrity and pride.

A new beginning for Mogale City as DA is elected to govern

The DA wishes to congratulate Cllr Tyrone Gray who was today elected the Executive Mayor for Mogale City Local Municipality. The comes after a vote of support from other opposition parties and affirms their faith in the DA’s ability to govern.

Cllr Jacqueline Pannall has been elected the new Council Speaker and will preside over Council meetings and perform duties in line with the role.

Mogale City has been plagued by serious service delivery challenges, financial mismanagement and lack of economic growth and productivity.

The DA is excited to bring its brand of good governance and to turn things around for the embattled municipality.

On our to-do list will be to get the basics right by working to restore service delivery, revitalising the local economy and fixing the public transport system.

We are aware that success will not be achieved overnight, but our team of councillors are capable and up to the task.

The DA wishes Mayor Gray and his team well.

DA Cllr Ewald Loock elected as Mayor of the Dr Beyers Naude Municipality

The DA welcomes the election of DA councillor Ewald Loock as the new Executive Mayor of the Dr Beyers Naude Local Municipality.

Today, 23 November 2021, Cllr Loock was elected as Mayor at the municipality’s inaugural council meeting in Graaff-Reinet. (see pictures here and here)

This follows the DA entering into a coalition agreement with the Compatriots of South Africa (CSA) and the Freedom Front Plus (FF+). The coalition agreement was finalised shortly before the commencement of today’s council meeting.

Cllr Loock has served as a public representative for the best part of 26 years – 13 years of which he served as the Mayor of the erstwhile Baviaans Municipality.

CSA Cllr Laughton Hoffman was elected as Speaker of Council and DA Cllr Ricardo Smith was voted in as Chief Whip. The councillor from the FF+ was elected to serve as a representative in the Sarah Baartman District Council.

Dr Beyers Naude will be sending three councillors to be representatives in the Sarah Baartman District Council. This will be one councillor from the DA, one from the FF+ and one from the ANC.

This coalition opens up new opportunities for the DA and its partners to bring change to the Sarah Baartman District by possibly taking over government of this district municipality.

A DA-governed Sarah Baartman District will see improved roads, economic growth, development of the tourism sector and better support in terms of disaster management – something that is desperately needed in this drought-stricken area.

Now, more than ever before, we are committed to serving the people of Dr Beyers Naude by ensuring transparent, corruption free governance and excellent service delivery to the deserving residents of this municipality.

Eskom infrastructure sabotage is consistent with the July insurrectionists’ modus operandi 

Please find an attached soundbite by Ghaleb Cachalia MP 

The failure by law enforcement agencies to expedite the capture and prosecution of the failed July insurrection could potentially be the reason why there is a coordinated attempt to target Eskom electricity infrastructure and collapse the economy.

Attacking the country’s critical infrastructure is a direct threat to the country’s national security. It is for this reason that the DA is calling on the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NATJOINTS) to convene as a matter of urgency and come up with an operational plan to address this growing threat of national infrastructure sabotage.

In July of this year, a DA ‘connect the dots’ statement made the case that a crippling cyberattack on Transnet’s IT infrastructure was an act of sabotage potentially carried out by the perpetrators of the insurrection.

As part of their plan to bring the country to its knees, the insurrectionists first targeted Durban’s major transport artery, the N3. Their intention was clearly meant to disrupt supply chains, cause food shortages and whip up public anger.

Having got away with these blatant acts of terrorism, all indications are that the insurrectionists have now set their sights on vulnerable Eskom infrastructure. Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter recently revealed that a deliberate attack on Lethabo power station, which is considered as one of South Africa’s most reliable, could have plunged the nation into stage 6 loadshedding.

These are not random acts of criminality but a coordinated effort that has its origins in the perpetrators of the July insurrection, some of whom are alleged to be disgruntled elements in the ANC’s factional wars. Law enforcement authorities have an obligation to uphold the law and bring these dangerous perpetrators to book without fear or favour.

Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni – the way forward

The following address was delivered today by the Federal Leader of the Democratic Alliance, John Steenhuisen MP, in Cape Town.

Good morning, South Africa.

Yesterday’s developments in the votes for Mayor and Speaker in both Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni Metros came as a surprise to everyone, including us at the DA. We didn’t ask for help from the EFF to lead these governments, and we did not expect to leave these meetings with two new DA mayors, and both these metros’ first ever female mayors.

But the election of Dr Mpho Phalatse and Tania Campbell, as the new mayors of Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni respectively, signifies an incredible opportunity for these metros. I know both these women well, and I can vouch for their character, their commitment and their willingness to do whatever it takes to put the interests of the people first.

Their first priority will be to ensure stability in these governments and work at solidifying coalitions with parties that share our governing principles and our commitment to the people. If we can get this right, today could be the start of a bright new chapter for these cities that are crying out for stable governance and better leadership. I give the residents of Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni my word that as long as they have a DA-led government in charge of their metro, we will always seek to act in their best interest and do all we can to make their city a better place to live in.

I want to reassure residents that there will be absolutely no compromise on our principles in order to stay in government. We are here to honour our pre-election commitment of governing well. We are certainly not here to cling to power at all cost and would sooner return to the opposition benches than give way to demands that are unrealistic, corrupt or require us to govern badly.

I also want to make it clear that we did not solicit the support of the EFF – or Action SA, for that matter – for our candidates in these metros. There was no deal made with them, and there is no quid pro quo for supporting our candidates. All we offer these parties is the opportunity to be on the right side of history. We will put proposals on the table to end corruption, improve service delivery, and to attract investment to these cities in order to create the jobs that are essential to lifting people out of poverty.

It will be up to them to show whether they are interested in this agenda or not. We look forward to working with any party that shares our vision for fixing these metros, and providing a pathway out of desperate poverty for millions.

But we are under no illusions about the stability of these governments as they now stand. I think it is clear to all that the EFF voted against the ANC more than they voted for the DA. They extracted no concessions from us, and they will get none. What this means is that these governments could very well be short-lived. But whether they last five years or five days, I can assure you that the DA will use its time in office entirely in service of the residents of these metros. That is the only reason we do what we do, and the only reason there ever should be for contesting elections.

All we can do is hold firm on our principles. Which is precisely what we did, throughout the election campaign, throughout the coalition negotiation process, and right up to yesterday’s council votes. We came under tremendous pressure, but we didn’t budge for a minute on these principles, and we made it very clear that we would rather remain in opposition than put ourselves in a compromised situation in unstable or paralysed minority governments.

None of that has changed. The EFF and Action SA’s support for our candidates came with no strings attached, and everyone who voted in support of a DA candidate yesterday knew that we would not allow a gun to be held to our head in this government arrangement.

The crucial threshold that was crossed yesterday was a psychological one. Today the whole of South Africa knows that the ANC can be beaten. We no longer live in a single-party dominated democracy, and that is a watershed moment in our history.

Analysing why various parties chose to vote for our candidates is of less importance than what happens from here on out. Because right now we have a golden opportunity to start correcting the course of these metros – to clean up government, to end corrupt contracts, and to re-prioritise spending in order to deliver better services to poor communities, open more opportunities for poor residents, grow the local economy and inspire hope for these cities’ and our country’s future.

This is a momentous task at the best of times. From the vantage point of a fragile minority government, with a hostile administration, and facing a huge opposition bloc, both in our own councils and in provincial governments, the challenge becomes Herculean.

Add to this depleted budgets, poor revenue collection, infrastructure decay and huge service delivery backlogs, and it should become clear: None of these cities can be turned around overnight, especially if we cannot ensure stability in complex minority coalitions. But the DA has managed difficult coalition governments before and we are up for this challenge. I can also assure you that no DA-led government has ever been afraid of hard work or daunted by long timelines.

As long as we can remain in office and work alongside parties that share our big, optimistic vision for these metros, we will chip away at that mountain of work and start turning Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni – and other cities we may win today – into the caring, inclusive and economically vibrant places we know they can be. But we will also make it known if and when parties deliberately frustrate these efforts, whether this is through interfering with the administration, or thwarting budgets and bylaws. If we cannot pass these crucial votes, we will be vocal about which parties obstructed or frustrated our efforts at good governance.

At the same time we will work hard to make these governments less vulnerable by doing all we can to build majority coalitions that don’t rely on voting support on a case-by-case basis from parties outside a coalition. To do this we will reach out to the parties that haven’t been part of our coalition agreements to date. We will make the case to them that the only way to make progress in these metros, and then protect this progress from the dangers of an unstable minority government, is by building an unassailable majority. Throughout this process, we will keep you informed and make all our agreements public.

Already we have successfully put together coalition governments in various other municipalities across the country, each of which comes with its own unique challenges, which we will have to manage over the next five years. We have also secured outright majorities in municipalities in three provinces other than the Western Cape where we intend to demonstrate that the best possible governing outcome in this country is an outright DA government. And although the situations in Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni are a different ballgame altogether, we also see this as an opportunity to demonstrate what the DA is capable of in government.

These two metros – as well as potentially Tshwane and eThekwini, depending on what happens in their council votes today and tomorrow – now stand before a critical crossroads. The removal of the ANC could not come at a more opportune time, less than three years out from the next national and provincial elections. We have a rare chance now to usher in a new ANC-free era for these metros.

But this will require cooperation and a commitment to selfless service from all parties involved. This is not a game of political chess or checkers, as some have called it. This is about doing what’s right by the people who live in these metros. It’s about responsible, accountable governance that improves lives and restores hope. And that’s never a game to us.

A new beginning for Knysna

Today the Knysna Council elected Cllr Levael Davis (DA) as Mayor, Cllr Mark Willemse (KIM) as Deputy Mayor and Cllr Julie Lopes (DA) as Speaker.

This signals a new beginning for the people of Knysna who have seen first hand how an ANC-coalition of corruption can quickly bankrupt a town, destroy business confidence and fail at even the most basic service delivery.

The DA-led Council will focus on delivering:
• A financially sustainable municipality
• A service driven culture
• Economic opportunity that stimulates economic growth
• A safe and healthy environment
• Investment in infrastructure

The hard work begins now and we look forward to making Knysna the jewel of the Garden Route that it has the potential to be.

Eight smaller parties hand NMB government back to the ANC

Today, 22 November 2021, during the inaugural sitting of Council, eight smaller parties in Nelson Mandela Bay handed the Metro back to the ANC. This was done against the wishes of the residents of Nelson Mandela Bay who once again rejected the ANC at the ballot box during the 2021 Local Government Elections.

Voting for these smaller parties was a vote for the ANC.

Last week the DA, as the biggest party in Council, entered into coalition talks with several smaller parties in order to put together a stable majority coalition government that would take Nelson Mandela Bay forward again.

Yesterday, 21 November 2021, these talks fell apart as certain smaller parties shifted the goalposts and demanded positions upon which we could not agree. These positions included all service delivery departments, deputy mayor and Speaker. Last week the DA was prepared to support Cllr Khusta Jack from the Abantu Integrity Movement (AIM) as Speaker but yesterday he joined forces with other smaller parties in making unreasonable demands.

Although an initial agreement was reached last week, it soon became clear that many of these parties are only interested in positions and do not have the best interests of our residents at heart.

The DA will not enter into any coalition with parties that do not share our principles and values and that will inevitably lead to an unstable government.

We will now focus on being a strong, effective and unrelenting opposition to ensure transparency and good governance where we can.

The DA believes that the people of Nelson Mandela Bay deserve uninterrupted good governance for the next five years. We need to prevent chaos and instability, but this cannot be achieved by rushing into an unstable minority coalition government.

The DA would like to thank the ACDP and the FF+ for remaining true to their commitment to support good governance and reject the ANC.

We will now take up our place in the opposition benches and we promise to be an excellent opposition that will fight for the rights of our residents and the service delivery they deserve.

DA statement ahead of Johannesburg Inaugural Council Meeting

The Johannesburg metro council will meet today to swear in councillors and to elect a Mayor and Speaker. The claim by some that the DA must support a multi-party minority coalition is misguided for the following reasons:

  • This minority coalition in Johannesburg will not be able to govern without the support of the EFF, that will remain outside the coalition but dictate its actions on the threat of bringing it down. The EFF will thus be able to direct the Mayor’s actions on many issues, as the EFF did after 2016 when Herman Mashaba became the “EFF’s mayor”.  We do not intend to repeat that failed mission again.
  • Even if the DA supported the coalition to form a minority government under Herman Mashaba in Johannesburg, it would still need the ANC or EFF to pass budgets and other critical mandatory council decisions.
  • Throughout the election campaign, the DA has been steadfast in its position that we would rather be a strong opposition than being part of a shaky coalition that limps from meeting to meeting and depends on the support of the EFF.

The DA will remain true to its values and principles as promised to its voters before the election.

The deadlock in many of the councils in South Africa is not as a result of anything the DA has done but rather the split in the opposition votes, and the decision by parties such as the Patriotic Alliance and the IFP to throw their weight behind the ANC.

This decision made it impossible for opposition parties to form a majority coalition in Johannesburg and effectively gave the balance of power to the EFF.  We cannot allow the EFF in by the back door, where they pretend to be out of government but are actually the puppet masters behind a minority coalition led by Herman Mashaba.  We tried that before and it failed.  We learn from experience and we keep our promises.

Update on DA’s Tshwane and Johannesburg coalition talks

Following the coalition talks between opposition parties in Gauteng yesterday, a joint statement was released that made a solution to the election outcome in Johannesburg and Tshwane sound deceptively simple:

This solution was essentially as follows: Let the DA head up a coalition of opposition parties to govern Tshwane, while Action SA does the same thing in Johannesburg.

The reality is much more complex.

The DA is, by a significant margin, the largest opposition party in both these Metros. But, apart from this, the election outcome in these two cities differs substantially.

In Tshwane, it is possible for opposition parties to come together to form a majority coalition government that has over 50% of the seats in Council. This means opposition parties can form a stable coalition, pass budgets and take decisions, without having to rely on the EFF.

This is not the case in Johannesburg.

For a start, the IFP and the Patriotic Alliance, that have a significant number of seats in Johannesburg (but not in Tshwane), have already stated that they will vote with the ANC. Without the 15 seats of these two parties, it is impossible for the other opposition parties to form a majority coalition, without the support of the EFF.

In other words, even if we do put together a minority coalition government in Johannesburg, the EFF would have to vote with us in order to enable us to take decisions, pass budgets and bring stable government. The coalition will therefore be subject to the whims and demands of the EFF.

The EFF has already said they intend to stay outside the coalition, and merely give us their vote when we do things that they agree with.

So inevitably, the EFF tail will wag the coalition dog in Johannesburg.

Some people argue that it is worth taking this risk. They say that we need a bold new move in politics to keep the ANC out.

However, there is nothing new or bold about this proposal. We tried exactly this after the 2016 election. We took the risk of being in minority coalitions supported by the EFF — which failed spectacularly.

Back then we put together opposition coalitions in Johannesburg and Tshwane neither of which had enough council seats to get over 50% of the vote.

The EFF did not join our coalitions but offered their support on a case-by-case basis. In both these cities, our minority coalitions had to rely on the EFF to get the majority we needed to govern.

This resulted in chaotic, unstable governments in which smaller parties switched sides and power kept changing hands.

In Johannesburg, in particular, Herman Mashaba (who was still a DA Mayor) understood that in order to remain Mayor, he had to dance to the EFF’s tune. Even Julius Malema acknowledged that Herman became the EFF’s mayor. That may have been a bonus for the EFF, but it was disastrous for everyone else.

The election result in 2021 is different from 2016 in only one significant respect.

In Tshwane, for the first time, we are now able to put together an opposition coalition government that will have a clear majority of seats. We will not have to rely on the EFF to secure a majority and remain in office.

Sadly, the same cannot be said for Johannesburg.

Essentially, what we are being asked to do in Johannesburg is what we did before: We are being asked to put Action SA at the head of a minority government that is dependent on the EFF to get 50% plus one of the votes.

This, in essence, repeats what we did after the 2016 election and which failed dismally.

We promised the voters faithfully we would not repeat this blunder.

We have consistently said we would rather be a good, strong opposition than in an unstable, chaotic, unprincipled coalition that has to kow-tow to the EFF to stay in office.

So it is quite wrong to present the election for a Mayor in Johannesburg as a choice between the ANC and an opposition coalition under Action SA.

It is actually a choice between the ANC and the EFF. That should be clear to all informed observers.

In the midst of the current confusion, we have an obligation to think clearly.

Our resolve is being tested, and we intend to stick by our commitment.

After our negotiation team reported back to Fedex, we considered their report and re-affirmed our resolve, as follows:

1) We will not go into chaotic minority coalitions that are dependent on the EFF to stay in power.

2) We would rather be a principled, strong opposition than be in government at all costs, especially when we know we will not be able to govern unless we dance to the tune of our arch opponents.

3) We respect the will of the voters, and where we enter opposition coalitions that have a chance of succeeding, we will support a representative of the largest party as the mayoral candidate.

4) We will not be part of any voting bloc that is dependent on the EFF.

None of this should come as a surprise to anyone. We have repeated these commitments consistently since the failure of the 2016 minority coalition governments. We emphasised them throughout our 2021 campaign.

The DA is a party that learns from experience. We are also a party of our word.

Now is the time to demonstrate both.

On Monday we will present our DA mayoral candidate, Mpho Phalatse, to election as Johannesburg’s Mayor at the Inaugural Council meeting.

On Tuesday, we will present the DA Mayoral candidate, Randall Williams, for election as Tshwane’s Mayor at the Inaugural Council meeting in that City.

While both these meetings will constitute a milestone in South Africa’s political development, they do not signal the end of the road.

The DA will always keep the door open for continuing talks to enable like-minded opposition parties to find each other and build a strong alternative to both the ANC and the EFF.

We will not be forced into a false choice between them, that can only lead to failure.